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This native columbine is less wide-spread in Montana than the yellow columbine, but it can do great in a garden setting with protection from extremely hot and dry conditions. Western columbine is a good option for shady locations but can be just as happy in the sun. In the wild you'll find it at higher elevations, and generally in areas that are moist or have spring moisture and dry out later on. For them to thrive in the valleys, they really need protection from afternoon sun. They can also be a little slow to establish so don't let them get overrun by more aggressive species. 


But it's worth it, look at these beauties: they have scarlet spurs and sepals, lemon yellow petals, and the slightest breeze will have the flower heads nodding on their slender stems. Generally these bloom late spring or early in the summer, but I've had them rebloom in the fall on occasion. They will spread via seed if they have the space,  just be aware that if you have other columbine species you could end up with hybrids. 


Bonus: I can say from personal observation that hummingbirds like western columbine.

western columbine

  • Aquilegia formosa

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